CBS Roasts New Corporate Foe: Big Sunscreen

August 18th, 2006 12:38 PM

CBS's Trish Regan found another corporate villain to roast on last night's "Evening News": Big Sunscreen.

Surely with a story about skin care, Regan at least featured a dermatologist or two to back up the push for more FDA regulation of sunscreen lotions, right?


Regan highlighted calls for further FDA regulation of sunscreen lotions by liberal state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Consumer Union environmental health scientist and eco-labeling project director Urvashi Rangan.

Rangan's gripe was that SPF factor labeling misleads the consumer about protection from ultraviolet radiation. Rangan claimed most sunscreens don't in fact protect against UVA radiation. But by failing to look for more information or a dissenting view, Regan left out information which could cut against a pro-regulatory agenda.:

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on sunscreen protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin.”

What’s more, not only are UVA radiation’s effects less noticeable and harder to quantify, according to the AAD, “Even on a cloudy day, 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds.”

Simply put, one’s exposure to the long-term damage from UVA radiation can come from the vast majority of our time outdoors when we’re not wearing sunscreen.

But just how misleading are sunscreen claims of UVA protection? Sunscreen that contains certain such ingredients as “benzophenones, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone,” says the AAD, extends “the coverage beyond the UVB range and into the UVA range, helping to make sunscreens broad-spectrum.”

In fact, one of the lotions Regan held up as misleading, Coppertone Sport, is one of 14 brands of lotion that Coppertone manufactures “that contain photostabilized avobenzone or zinc oxide [to] provide broad-spectrum protection,” according to the company Web site.

Regan ended her story urging her audience that the best protection from the sun is to "seek shade."

But as I noted in my latest article, even sunscreen manufacturers caution their users to take additional precautions when working or playing outdoors.

Regan's story falls into a common conceit in the liberal media: that large corporations intentionally aim to deceive you to make a few extra bucks. But by excluding sunscreen company representatives and dermatologists, Regan made no effort to present a balanced story where the allegations could be answered by opposing points of view.